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Subaru Maintenance Costs Rank The Worst Among All Mainstream Car Brands

Where do Subaru’s maintenance costs rank with other car brands? Subaru ranks in the bottom ten with all car brands and worst among mainstream brands. Check out the updated Consumer Reports data here.

Where do Subaru’s maintenance costs rank with those of other car brands? Subaru ranks in the bottom ten among all car brands and worst among mainstream brands. Check out the updated Consumer Reports data here.   

In this report, I’ll compare Subaru’s maintenance costs over 1-5 years and 6-10 years with those of other car brands. I’ll also show that Subaru’s total ten-year costs rank in the bottom ten among all car brands and worst among mainstream brands, according to updated data from Consumer Reports.

The new CR report (by subscription) says Subaru ranks the worst of all mainstream car brands. Subaru's maintenance costs are the highest, along with luxury car brands notorious for high maintenance. 

Below, I show the cumulative costs for years one through five, years six through 10, and total costs for ten years. From what I see in this report, Subaru is ranked 20th overall by the full 10-year costs compared with 29 mainstream and luxury car brands. 

How Does CR Calculate Subaru’s Maintenance Costs? 

CR says, “To better understand how costs increase over time and differ by brand, we asked members in our 2023 Annual Auto Surveys to tell us how much they paid out of pocket for their total maintenance (oil changes, etc.) and repairs during the previous 12 months.”

“We found that there are significant differences in costs as cars age, underscoring how maintenance and repair expenses rise over time.” 

What Are Subaru’s Maintenance Costs?

  • Subaru’s maintenance costs over 1-5 years is $1,700
  • Subaru’s maintenance costs over 6-10 years is $5,500
  • Subaru’s total 10-year maintenance cost is $7,200

Subaru’s maintenance costs are ranked highest among luxury car brands.

Surprisingly, that puts Subaru just ahead of luxury brands BMW ($9,500), Audi ($9,890), Mercedes-Benz ($10,525), and Porsche ($10,090) who were the worst car brands with the highest maintenance costs. 

Consumer Reports says, “At the opposite end of the rankings, several German automakers are clustered as the most expensive brands, namely Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche.”

I see several important maintenance pointers Subaru customers should know about. 

Why Are Subaru Maintenance Costs So High?

What are Subaru maintenance services? From what I’ve found, Subaru's regular maintenance is more expensive than that of the top car brands and not easy to do yourself.

Subaru Maintenance Is Unusual 

First, Subaru has a different powertrain design. All vehicles except the BRZ sports coupe come standard with all-wheel drive. And its engines are horizontally opposed concerning its cylinders. Subaru calls this a "Boxer engine.”

Some Subaru Maintenance Needs To Be Performed More Often

Because of Subaru’s unusual powertrain, owners can expect to perform differential fluid changes more often than they would with a conventional vehicle.

Subaru recommends changing the spark plugs every 60,000 miles, which is an adventure that I’ve found the average owner cannot perform. The engine mounts are disconnected and lifted slightly to allow the Subaru technician access to the plugs, which are snugly situated against the sides of the engine bay.

Subaru CVT Fluid Change

Another exceptional service is the continuously variable transmission (CVT) fluid change. The vehicle needs to be running while on the lift to change the fluid. You’ll also need OEM Subaru CVT fluid when you do this service. 

I’ve found Subaru's regular maintenance services are more expensive because they are more comprehensive and involve Subaru's unique drivetrain. However, if they are performed as recommended, your vehicle's life will be prolonged.

Thanks for reading, everyone. I hope you enjoyed this used Subaru maintenance report. See you tomorrow for my latest Subaru Report.


What is your experience with Subaru maintenance? Click on the Add New Comment red link below.

If you have any Subaru questions, send them to me through The Dirty Subaru website, and I will answer them. 

I am Denis Flierl, a top Torque News and Subaru reporter since 2012. I’ve invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role, working with every major car brand. I am an experienced Rocky Mountain Automotive Press member. You'll find my expert Subaru analysis here. Follow me on my The Dirty Subaru website, Dirty Subaru blog, X SubaruReport, All Subaru, WRXSTI, @DenisFlierl, Facebook, and Instagram.

I’ve got you covered! - I cover all Subaru all the time. 

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Photo credit: Subaru


Mike (not verified)    April 17, 2024 - 5:33PM

Yet somehow, Subaru vehicles continue to have among the lowest cost of ownership- year after year. Perhaps these are calculated using the maintenance schedules included in the owner's manuals which require the absolute bare minimum... ie Inspect CVT fluid only.

Brian Fishman (not verified)    April 19, 2024 - 5:03PM

In reply to by Mike (not verified)

I own a 219 Forester sport and at 62000 miles on my Subaru was the first time I had to change brakes and rotors to my surprise the parts where just as much as labor Subaru parts are expensive and found out my lower control are bushings are torn but the dealer won't replace them yet because they are not torn enough for warranty to pick up yet! There is no transmission service on newer Subaru 2014 or newer as it's a sealed system as long as you keep changing the oil every 5 to 6 thousand miles the cars will last my dealer silver spring Subaru is competitive in pricing in oil changes 86.bucks out the door price and is a tire center and it was cheaper to get tires at my dealer then a tire rack or any other tire place to get new tires
I think cr is getting there info on old Subaru prior to 2014 models whish had issues with head gaskets and thus same boxer engines as Porsche and old bug engines and the new hybrid Subaru uses Toyota Prius technologies systems

Dennis B. DeYoung (not verified)    April 21, 2024 - 9:44AM

In reply to by Brian Fishman (not verified)

We bought a Subaru Forester in 2003, our 2nd one. We sold it in 2023 and bought anew Forester Wilderness to replace it. In the 20 years that we owned this car, we never had any serious problems. Tires, batteries, etc. but nothing else; probably should have kept it.

Howard Hogle (not verified)    April 19, 2024 - 8:07PM

In reply to by Denis Flierl

Some dealers are running the cost to maintain up by severely overcharging for 30k, 60k services. Examples we charge $595.00 + tx for the 60k svc $285+tx for the 30k svc.
We shop the market and find some are like us but many are $1100+ on 60k, $600+ on 30k by building in extras like cvt fluid service every 30k, awd fluid service every 30k, induction service every 30k.. Overkill in most cases. The newer direct injection cars could benefit from an induction service by 60k...

D (not verified)    April 17, 2024 - 7:44PM

It's honestly pretty wild you can't easily access the spark plugs on a 4 cylinder engine. I love my WRX but I won't buy another Subaru based on the high maintenance. My wife is all the high maintenance I need

Dave B (not verified)    April 18, 2024 - 3:32PM

In reply to by D (not verified)

It's more common than you'd think. Many small hatchbacks tuck the engine back enough that you can't easily access them. Both our 2009 and 2016 Honda Fits require removing wiper blade arms, the plastic trim and parts along the bottom of the windshield, etc. A really stupid design IMO but they also only recommend changing them every 100k miles so not nearly as often.

Steve hopper (not verified)    April 17, 2024 - 9:18PM

I’ve owned a 2017 crosstrek for almost a year, had dealer do oil change and they did a full inspection with recommended maintenance, I did the rear diff gear oil, and spark plugs, the spark plugs are no problem, easy to get to with a spark plug socket, oil filters are right up front on the motor not on the back of the engine like others out there, my wife has a 2017 Impreza and my youngest boy has a 2014 out back and they all have been wonderful vehicles comfortable and performance

Mark monteith (not verified)    April 17, 2024 - 9:56PM

I averaged over 100000 miles a year for 4 years and I felt I got what I paid for and then with 474000 miles on the car it saved my life when a lady trying to commit suicide drove the wrong way on a major highway aiming for cars. I lived thru that. The maintenance costs were worth every penny. I have continued to buy Subaru’s ever sense I will continue to for the rest of my life. The cost of the car and its upkeep are worth it. Believe me, everyone one in my family agrees.

Jeff (not verified)    April 18, 2024 - 12:49AM

I question the CU findings. We've got a 2014 Forester with 118k and have spent far less than what this article notes. While correct on the spark plugs (they're a pain) oil changes are a breeze. Our 11-year old does them on both our Subies for some spending money with no issue. Other recommended maintenance like air and cabin filters, belts, brake servicing, batteries, and tire rotations are equally simple, easily managed by someone with a small toolbox. We've had to replace lower control arms, a window motor, and rear wheel bearing beyond consumables like tires and batteries. Finally, Subaru does NOT recommend changing CVT fluid unless an inspection suggests it.

Dan (not verified)    April 18, 2024 - 6:07AM

My only Subaru maintenance complaint is that I cannot buy a factory service manual from the dealership or online. My complaint might apply to other brands, but I wouldn't know; I am on my fifth Subaru. They have been wonderful cars for my wife and I, seldom needing anything more than routine maintenance.

Nick (not verified)    April 18, 2024 - 6:13AM

I own a 2017 Outback 3,6 engine love the car but between bushings bearings and regular dealer maintenance it's quit high.I took an extended warranty from Subaru my drive train just went.I have only 152 thousand kilometers.Engine burns oil in between oil changes.After just 3 thousand kilometers the dip stick went down a notch.Im still under warranty looks like they will need to replace the engine.

E Simmons (not verified)    April 18, 2024 - 6:14AM

Stop start feature SUCKS, and is unsafe. Sure, comments about the shaking abound but a more serious issue is stalling. Too often, at a stop light and the engine is "off", it stalls when I step on the gas. I then have to apply the brakes, shift into P and restart my 2021 Forester. Subaru Tech's seem to shrug this off.

Michelle (not verified)    April 18, 2024 - 11:30AM

In reply to by E Simmons (not verified)

We had this happen… also told dealership with no response. It just kept getting worse! After about a year the car would stop and not restart. I thought the starter was going out! Turns out it was the battery! Haven’t had an issue with our 2020 forester since! Good luck

Jack (not verified)    April 18, 2024 - 7:23AM

Having owned Subarus, Toyotas, and Mazdas, Hondas and VWs I'd say personally the Subarus are in the middle.

The big difference is that their cost is regular maintenance... Because my experience is they don't break down unexpectedly and can handle a monster pothole. That's worth an awful lot to me.

Greg koller (not verified)    April 18, 2024 - 8:55AM

On my 2014 Outback I have 225,000 miles on it. I've relpaced
2 wheel bearings
1 ball joint
1 alinement
Regular maintenance I had done
1 Tranny flush
Maintenance I do myself is oil changes and those are so easy to do.
These comments that Subaru's are costly to maintain are nothing but a gross lie. This is the best vehicle I have ever had .
Opps I forgot I replaced
the backup camera
3 sets of spark plugs
The CD player don't work.
That's all.
I do need to replace the rocker covers as one is leaking.

Terry (not verified)    April 18, 2024 - 9:20AM

I have owned Subarus, Toyotas and Hondas. My experience is that Subarus fall apart after 100k with very expensive service. My Hondas and Toyotas go well past 300k with minimal expense.

Philip Sullivan (not verified)    April 18, 2024 - 9:42AM

I have owned 5 Subarus since 1987( latest is my new 2024 Crosstrek) I can’t speak for the new Subaru but I have great luck with all except the 1987 which had carburetor issues. Other than that I haven’t had the problems that you mentioned about ALL SUBARU VEHICLES. I have owned Fords, Chevrolets,Dodge and other Chrysler vehicles along with a few other brands and don’t think that the maintenance costs on my Subarus were any worse than the other vehicles. It all boils down to (PRACTICING PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE ) I have always taken my new vehicles to THE DEALERSHIP FOR RECOMMENDED MARKET SCHEDULES. It has always worked out well for me NO MATTER WHAT BRAND OF VEHICLE I OWNED. As you can see I DONT COMPLETELY AGREE WITH YOUR APPARENT DISLIKE FOR SUBARU.

Tyler Durden (not verified)    April 18, 2024 - 10:48AM

IDK. I find it hard to give any credibility to an obvious millennial who knows nothing about cars except what he reads in a repair manual. First, Subaru does not call it a boxer engine. That configuration was known as a boxer long before Subaru used it. Second, the manual says you have to uncouple the engine mounts etc to do the spark plugs. However, with a little insight, it can be done WITHOUT doing so. This article is nothing more than click bait written by an ignoramus.

Eric Neils (not verified)    April 19, 2024 - 1:29PM

In reply to by Tyler Durden (not verified)

I believe you are correct, Sir. I have a BRZ. I DRIVE IT like the sports car that it is. It doesn't break. I choose to install Michelin Sport 4 S which aren't cheap and one Brembo brake was damaged by road debris; however, routine maintenance is the same cost as a Mazda, Honda or Toyota sedan. My wife's Impreza Sport is as solid as a classic Mercedes put together by the folks at Subaru of Indiana. Service is no more expensive than a Ford or Chevy.

John Drake (not verified)    April 18, 2024 - 1:19PM

Nonsense, my 2012 outback has 212,000 miles. Most reliable and safe car I've ever owned. Other than scheduled maintenance, has cost me $3,000 over 12 years. Previous 2005 outback I gave to my granddaughter, 250,000 miles, stil chugging along. Can't imagine where they get their info.